Most people consume ad-supported TV and Radio, so why not ad-supported ebooks? That’s the basic model behind 24Symbols, a service which seeks to deliver all sorts of ebooks to PCs and smartphones.
In a word, to be for ebooks what Spotify is for music.
As of this writing the service is up and running. You can log in from any browser, peruse their collection of ebooks, and enjoy for free. More info below.
- The books: at this point seem to consist mainly of project Gutenburg public domain books (this seems true at least for most of the English books).
- No geographic restrictions: unlike Spotify and other similar services, at least not at the moment
- Browsing: can be done via navigating a hierarchical tree-style categories structure, or via a search box. Many ebooks had thumbnailed cover art, but most did not, disappointingly.
- The viewer: is very nice; in the browser, full page, and ad free (see screenshot to the right, above). Options exist to highlight or bookmark.
- The ads: the only ads I saw were on the first page, and appeared at the moment you selected a book to read. They were unobtrusive and elegant (as much as an ad could be regarded elegant, I suppose).
- Logging in: you can create an account or log in via your Facebook account, which is what I did.
The verdict: with apps for iPad, smartphone, and handheld devices in the pipeline, this service could be huge. But the real challenge is whether it is going to pick up traction with publishers, such that titles are available that you actually want to read. This is a big if, but this reviewer at least is hoping that they succeed.